History of War



The Cold War: Timeline (1947-1991)

Interactive version | Text-only version

Cold War Timeline

Timeline guidelines
Hover over selected dates on the timeline to see that particular event or war's description, and to see where it occured and what countries were involved on the world map below. Red dates are the major Cold War proxy wars that are covered in-depth as major sections of this site. Click the red links to go to the overview page of that particular war.

January 1947
Communists seize power in Poland.
March 1947
Truman Doctrine, the US policy to stop the expansion of the Soviet Union and communism, is announced.
June 1948 - May 19, 1949
Berlin Airlift - the air delivery of food and resources to the people of West Berlin by the Allied forces after the Soviets blocked roads and railways into the city.
April 1949
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a military alliance between the United States, Great Britain, France, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Norway, Denmark and Iceland, is established.
August 1949
The Soviet Union explodes its first atomic bomb.
October 1949
The Communist Party in China, the Peoples Republic of China (PRC), win the Chinese Civil War.
TThe Korean War. To learn more, click to visit to the full section on the Korean War.
August 1953
U.S. sponsored coup overthrows Iranian government.
June 1954
U.S. sponsored coup overthrows Guatemalan government.
Vietnam War. To learn more, click to visit to the full section on the Vietnam War.
May 1955
The Warsaw Pact (also known as the Eastern Bloc), a military alliance similar to NATO between 8 Eastern European and Asian states, is formed. Member states include the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Albania.
November 1956
Red Army crushes the Hungarian Revolution.
October 1957
The Soviets launch the first manmade satellite.
February 1959
Fidel Castro becomes premier of Cuba after the Cuban Revolution, and installs a Communist government.
April 1961
Bay of Pigs, the failed invasion and coup of Fidel Castro by the United States, takes place in Cuba.
August 1961
Soviet-controlled East Germany builds the Berlin Wall, making emigration between East and West Germany extremely difficult.
1962 - 1989 
Sino-Soviet Conflict: the worsening of relations between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Soviet Union reaching its height in 1969 during the Sino-Soviet border conflict.
October 1962
Cuban Missile Crisis. Soviet nuclear missiles are moved to Cuba making them within striking distance of major Southern cities in the United States.
August 1965 
U.S. commits combat troops to South Vietnam.
August 1968
Soviet Red Army crushes Czech Uprising.
July 1969
The American spacecraft Apollo 11's moon landing is successful. Man walks on the moon for the first time.
September 1973
U.S. supported coup overthrows Chilean government.
February 1976
Soviet and Cuban forces help install Communist government in Angola.
January 1979
U.S. and China establish diplomatic relations.
Soviet War in Afghanistan. To learn more, click to visit to the full section on the Soviet War in Afghanistan.
March 1985
Mikhail Gorbachev becomes leader of the Soviet Union.
December 1989
Berlin Wall is demolished.
May 1990
George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev agree to the reunification of Germany in 1994  
August 1991
Hard-line Communists stage unsuccessful coup against Mikhail Gorbachev.
December 1991
The Soviet Union is abolished.  Boris Yeltsin becomes President of Russia.




Disclaimer: It must be noted that there are many countries that were allies of both the United States and the Soviet Union that were not included in this interactive map to focus on the events and therefore countries included in the timeline. For the full graphic that includes all of the countries involved in World War II, visit the main timeline page and hover over World War II on that interactive timeline.